Magick and Concentration
One of the classic concentration exercises is to see how long you can focus on one mental image, such as a candle flame, piece of fruit, or other neutral item, then extend the time. Most practitioners agree that when the image can be held for 20 minutes or so, a high of concentration has been attained. The flaw in this method is the belief that all people think in mental pictures when they don’t. This is why systems involving mantras, and other systems based on sound have evolved. Some people may at this point think of the system Transcendental Mediation which is an absorption system rather than a meditative one because the practitioner attends to their unique mantra to the exclusion of all else. Other forms of secular focused concentration (AKA “Mindfullness”) using the senses are the popping of bubble wrap, and the focus on the sense of taste by such acts as focusing on eating one raisin at a time.
The difference between concentration and meditation is the amount of mental effort involved. In Meditation the mind is relaxed, aware of its surroundings, and noticing things without being attached to them, and it refreshes the mind . While contemplation and other mental practices demand a lot of mental energy to become immersed in concentrating on one thing or concept. Even many of the internal energy-building exercises from the Pagan building a cone of power for ritual purposes, to Chi Gung for health can also be thought of as concentration/absorption rather than meditation.
Indeed, the charging of objects with Chi/Odic Force/Vril/Personal Energy is done mainly through dynamic concentration, as is the raising of the Chi itself. On the physical plane the very act of concentrating on breathing and energy-raising engages the part of the brain responsible for information processing which can use a lot of physical energy. This is the reason for the “cakes and ale” at the end of many Pagan rituals, or gatherings that involve energy manipulation such as spellwork or healing. It is to bring the blood sugar back up after the energy expended during these practices,
This is not to say that dynamic concentration cannot lead to a state of expanded consciousness, just that it is a different way to it. Focussing your mind to a single point can lead to the equivalent of a mental ‘fusion reaction’ unlocking levels of reality connected with the object or subject being concentrated on. This is one of the reasons that Kabbalists spend so much time and effort on learning all about the Tree of Life with its’ Sephirot and Paths between them. The more vivid and real they can make these mental images, the more likely they are to connect with the powers associated with them. Sometimes this is associated with the technique of Pathworking where active imagination is used in combination with symbols connected with the Shephora or Path so that the Mage may experience themselves in the Sphere, or on the path of their choice. As they immerse themselves in the experience this can lead to spontaneous visions and links which can have a positive effect on their spiritual path.
Pathworking is also used in many Pagan spiritual systems and the more real you can make the experience the greater the connections can be. The practitioner must move beyond holding an image in their mind to making it as authentic as possible. This means incorporating all the other senses of smell, touch, and on occasion, taste to make the experience as real as the physical world they live in. If you imagine an apple you must also experience how it feels, smells, and even tastes, in addition to how it looks, and every time you do this exercise there should be differences in all of these impressions. So, if you go on a pathworking, for example, you should try to ‘be there’ as much as possible. If your way takes you through a meadow you should feel the ground under your feet and smell the plants around you. As your journey progresses and you might enter a cave, for example, you should experience the change in temperature and sound. The more authentic you make it the more likely you are to encounter the situations you seek and learn from them as you would on the physical plane.
This technique is also useful for uncomfortable situations and procedures. As an old martial arts saying goes “The mind and body do not have to always walk the same path” and experienced practitioners of the mental and spiritual side of these arts have been known to undergo potentially painful surgery such as sinus operations and joint relocation with no sign of discomfort. This is because they attained a state of deep inner focus doing the technique outlined in the last paragraph, concentrating on the inner experience and this masked the discomfort of the medical procedure. I have done the same when having minor dental procedures done and it works extremely well.
In the next article we will look at how dynamic concentration can be used to shape magickal energy and how it may be the ‘secret’ behind the famous Indian Rope Trick.
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